Don Roy
April 1, 2007
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

Ryanan Vitiritto’s 2003 Mustang Cobra
There's no antidote for this one. Ryan Vitiritto wanted a Cobra. Period. He'd experienced the Mustang art in a number of forms before, so he had a pretty good idea of what he was talking about. There had been a couple of Fox-body cars, but he really grew attached to the SN95 and New Edge models. So, there was a 1994 GT that had a Vortech blower sitting high over its 5.0-liter engine block. Then, there was a Y2K GT with a Saleen conversion. Then, when John Coletti's team released the specifications for the 2003 SVT Cobra, there was simply no question about Ryan not getting one.

"I always wanted a Cobra, because they were the ultimate Mustang," Ryan told us. In his work at ICE Truck and Auto Works, in Des Moines, Iowa, he has seen a lot of iron come and go. When SVT announced that there would not be a 2002 model year Cobra, the gears had already been churning in Dearborn. So, it wasn't long after, that talk of a factory supercharged, 390-HP Cobra ... code named 'Terminator' ... started surfacing. This would be the most powerful factory-built Mustang ever. People were lining up at SVT authorized Ford dealerships to leave a deposit and get on the A-list.

One of the people that did get onto that list was John Kolivas, a well known NMRA competitor. Kolivas had originally ordered the Cobra to run it in NMRA's Wild Street class, but later decided to pursue the Drag Radial crowd - a decision that certainly made last year's DR action a lot more exciting. Kolivas would have taken the 2006 BF Goodrich Tires Drag Radial championship, but for an errant fuel rail hold-down bolt that waited until the very last race of the season to let go.

Big Dreams
When Kolivas put the 'For Sale' sign on the Cobra, Ryan was among the first to see it and they did the deal. Now, our boy is no stranger to the 1320 either, so the first weekend after getting it, the Cobra was being exercised at the local strip. "When I bought it, it had a few tasteful mods done and was fairly quick. I really thought that I would be happy with the power," Ryan mentioned. Oh, how often we've heard those words before! Such power as there was at the time, wasn't getting down to the track through the Cobra's independent rear suspension. Not one to fuss about with bushings and such, the IRS was discarded in favor of a tried and true straight axle. To handle the beefier output from the DOHC engine, a Ford Racing 31-spline differential was installed and hooked up to a set of Moser Engineering's axle shafts.

The rest of the driveline also received a few upgrades at the same time. These included a Centerforce DFX clutch and a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft. Now that the power was getting through, it wasn't long until that level wasn't satisfying. Ryan's next step was to replace the factory supercharger with a Kenne Bell 2.2 liter unit. Along the way, other areas of the car were developing, as Ryan divided his attentions between running at tracks like Kansas City, Joliet, Cordova and Topeka, and sharing his pride and joy on the show field. Helping out with the car's presentation are the distinctive rolling stock - Speed Star Wheels' D5Rs, measuring 18-inches by 9-inches wide. Wrapped around these are sticky Nitto NT555 Extreme radials.

When at an NMRA event, both he and John Kolivas would look for each other and check out their cars. John would often compliment Ryan on his work, saying "That's what I would have done." Underhood and interior billet pieces were being added. He painted the cam covers to match the Tangelo Pearl stripes that he'd used to accent the exterior, and added Ford GT coil covers. The results were coming in wherever Ryan showed the car, including the World Ford Challenge car show, World of Wheels car show, as well as events with his local club, the Mustang Club of Central Iowa.